Published May 2, 2019 Gazette
WW1 RED CROSS NURSE NINA SEYMOUR DIES IN FRANCE
By Bob Lessard, Commander and Historian Simeon L. Nickerson Post 64 American Legion
(Middleborough will be celebrating its 350th Anniversary this year, while the Simeon L. Nickerson Post 64 of the American Legion, which was founded on June 23, 1919, will be observing its 100th birthday. From time to time, as part of the dual celebration, we will be offering biographical sketches of some our town’s World War veterans.)
Registered Nurse Nina Louise Seymour is the only Middleborough woman to lose her life, while rendering medical aid to the troops overseas during World War 1. She is the only woman posted on the Central Casualty Stone in Middleboro’s Veterans Memorial Park.
Born in Erving, MA, Ms. Seymour was fifteen years old when her family moved to Middleboro. She was a graduate Middleboro High School in 1910. Following her graduation, she attended Hart Private Hospital in Roxbury, where she obtained her Registered Nurse certificate on October 14, 1913.
Ms. Seymour, had been employed as the District Nurse for the Town of Middleboro for five years (1913-1918), before she volunteered to serve with the Red Cross Nursing Corps in June, 1918 and later was shipped to the war zone in France.
She had only been in France for about a month, when she contracted bronchial pneumonia while serving with the Red Cross Nursing Corps at Base Hospital 82 in Toul, France. She died of that disease on October 10, 1918 at age 26 years. Her body was temporarily buried in the Hospital Cemetery in until removed and transported home for interment.
In November 1918, Charles H. Bates paid tribute to the fallen nurse while speaking before the Nemasket Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. His speech, in part, spoke of Ms. Seymour’s nurse activities….”for the past five years (she had) gone into the homes of the sick and suffering to bring comfort and cheer by her skillful ministrations. She had been in that land scarcely more than a month when word was received that she had given her young life as a supreme sacrifice,” reported the Middleboro Gazette.
In addition, Mr. Bates also stated in regard to the memory of the late nurse, “…just appreciation of her noble life work….loyal, efficient, cheerful, conscientious, faithful in every duty in her work as former district nurse in Middleboro.”
According to a story in the Middleboro Gazette, the funeral service for Ms. Seymour was held in the Church of Our Saviour, which was “filled to overflowing by local dignitaries and friends.” The Rev. J. Gordon Carey officiated and spoke of “greater love hath no man than this… that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
A military color guard with firing squad escorted the flag draped casket and funeral cortege to the cemetery and rendered honors for Nina Louise Seymour. She was buried in the family plot next to her father in Central Cemetery on May 26, 1921.
At the cemetery, the Gazette reported, “…the reverent crowd who were waiting at the cemetery to pay the last tribute to the beautiful life of Nina Seymour bear tribute to the love and esteem which were hers in this community.”
Later, the District Nursing Association decided to raise funds to procure a large bronze plaque in memory of Nina Louise Seymour. A sum of $750 was raised and Reed & Barton in Taunton was commissioned to design the plaque.
Among the major contributors for the Nina Seymour plaque was the Simeon L. Nickerson Post 64 of the American Legion. Post membership on February 9, 1920, at the recommendation of a three man study committee consisting of Misters Wood, Begley and Soule, donated the sum of $50.00 to the fund.
Originally the plaque was displayed in Middleboro’s public library until 1962. It was then moved to the now closed St. Luke’s Hospital until that facility closed in the 1990’s. Mrs. Jeanne Tunney, grand- niece of Ms. Seymour and her husband Eugene, asked town officials to place the plaque “in or near the public health office.”
The couple wished that the displayed plaque would remind the citizens of Middleboro of the sacrifice she made in the service of the country.” Currently, the plaque resides in the second floor office of the Health Department in the town hall annex bank building.
In recent years family members and Simeon L. Nickerson Post 64 American Legion have donated items to the Middleboro Historical Museum regarding Nurse Nina Louise Seymour.
Relatives have donated to the Middleboro Historical museum a certificate of appreciation signed by the President of France for Nina’s service to his country. Also, a black straw black hat with a small red cross, a pair of laced leather boots and the flag draped across Nina’s casket were donated to the museum.
Post Commander Jeffrey Montelo the American Legion Simeon L. Nickerson Post 64 and this writer, served as a guest speakers at a meeting of the Middleboro Historical Association on September 10, 2014.
During his introduction, Commander Montelo informed the attendees that Post 64 would be donating several items attributed to Nurse Nina Louise Seymour discovered in Post files. “While Bob was researching our Post history, he discovered a photo of Ms. Seymour and her graduation certificate from the Hart Private Hospital dated October 14, 1913.”
“As the Post has no public viewing display, we representatives of Post 64 wish to donate these two historical items to the museum,” said Commander Montelo. Miss Cynthia McNair, president of the Middleboro Historical Association accepted the photograph and certificate on behalf of the group and stated that the items would be placed on display.
As noted earlier in this column, look for our dedicated heroine’s name on the WW1 section of the Central Casualty Stone in the Middleboro Veterans Memorial Park.